The Junk Parlor

Family Heirlooms: to keep or not to keep?

Who is responsible in your family to hold on to all of the family heirlooms? Is it you? Do you feel a responsibility to keep everything? I’m writing this to give you permission not to keep it.

This child’s chair is a family piece that I absolutely love!
See more of this bathroom HERE.

I hear it all of the time…this isn’t really mine, it’s my mom’s. This isn’t really my style, but it was my great grandmas. Or, another common one is that I have ALL of the stuff from family. My house is like a storage unit, but I can’t get rid of it even if no one else wants it.

I understand having a sentimental attachment to a physical object. Or feeling like a piece has been in the family 100 years, so I can’t ruin that tradition. But reality is that your home should be full of stuff that you love. Not the stuff that your great grandma had. Honestly, chances are your great grandma hated whatever you are holding on to!

Family Heirlooms: To Keep or Not to Keep
This cabinet was in my grandmas kitchen and got moved to the garage when she remodeled.
See more of the laundry room HERE.

Have you ever thought about that? My grandma lived to be a couple months shy of 100! A lot of things she had, she had because that was all they could afford. Some of the things I loved in her home, she did not like for that reason. Some things she did have sentimental ties to, because she remembers saving up to buy the piece, I did not have any connection to. My grandma also said don’t save things!

Family Heirlooms: To Keep or Not to Keep
This cradle is the one piece I have not parted with, but don’t have out on display.

We spent a lot of time going through her things. She had pinned little notes on things, explaining what things were used for or who made what. But, she still said she wished she hadn’t saved so much stuff. At the time she thought it was nice and packed it away for “some day.” Looking back she wished she would have used that quilt or linens or nice dress instead of saving them.

I’m sure we’ve all heard of taking pictures of family heirlooms, so we can enjoy talking about memories through the photograph versus holding on to the item itself. But, I don’t think that technique works for very many! Quite awhile a go I read a blog post by Marian, MissMustardSeed. She was talking about this very topic and I thought she provided some new insight on how to deal with family heirlooms.

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I can remember playing hide-and-seek in here!

The first was to keep it in the family, just not in your house! So, as I was trying to get rid of some pieces I didn’t want or need, but was torn because they were family pieces, I reached out to family. I let them know that I was ready to part with some things and wanted to know if anyone was interested. If they weren’t, then the item was going to be sold or donated.

Another tip when deciding to keep or not keep those family pieces is to consider the other side. Are you going to expect your children and grandchildren to keep your bed frame? What about your dishes? Or the photographs on your wall? Will you be upset with your children for selling or donating those items? I doubt you will.

Family Heirlooms: To Keep or Not to Keep
Grandma always kept this in her living room as a side table filled with magazines.

I want my kids to fill their homes with items they love and enjoy, not fill their homes with family pieces out of guilt! That’s why antique shops are full. We buy those family heirlooms that your family didn’t keep, so that they can join a new family and continuing being loved.

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6 thoughts on “Family Heirlooms: to keep or not to keep?”

  1. Sara Fischer Williams

    Should I hire an appraiser to give me a fair market price? I don’t know what the value of my pieces are.

    1. Brooke Johnson

      Value is dependent on who you can get to buy it, so if an appraiser says something is worth $1,000 it’s only worth that if you can find a buyer who will pay that. If you are wanting to get rid of things I wouldn’t worry about getting an appraiser, but that’s me!

  2. I think ur wrong about antique family furniture & I think people should cherish what was their grandmother’s heirlooms . Everyone these days want to simplify everything & pieces that hold value & have been in the family should be cherished. Young people somehow how no sentimental value & I think that’s needs to change. U can make things work if u want too. Use ur imagination & luv what isn’t made anymore.

    1. Please come buy my antiques! I have no heirs and would like to have new flooring and retire!!! Seriously I love them so much and they have such great detail but they are so heavy and the marble tops and beveled silver mirrors have to be moved carefully! I’m in Carson City Nevada!

      1. Brooke Johnson

        Sorry to say that I’m a little too far away to come shop your house! Reach out to a local dealer and I’m sure you’ll be able to sell some stuff!

    2. Brooke Johnson

      I sell vintage and antiques so I definitely love old stuff. But I don’t think we need to keep things just because they should have sentimental value. I don’t think 50 years from now my kids need to keep my couch, dining room chairs, dresser, etc. Just because I liked those things doesn’t mean they have to like it. I want them to be surrounded by things they love. Our homes and spaces have such an impact on our mental state…surround yourself with what you love and cherish! Not what your mom or grandma cherished!

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